The court of Varanasi's senior-most judge today deferred the pronouncement of judgement on a plea seeking carbon dating of a purported 'Shivling' at the Gyanvapi mosque complex. The court will pronounce its order on October 11. The plea by Hindu women petitioners sought scientific investigation, including carbon dating, of the 'Shivling' found earlier this year during a video survey carried out on the orders of a lower court in the temple town.
The court today asked for more clarity from the lawyers for the women petitioners. The court sought clarifications on two points: Whether the purported 'shivling' can be made a part of the case and whether the court can actually order any scientific investigation.
Four of the five Hindu women petitioners - whose original plea was to pray yearlong at a shrine inside the Gyanvapi mosque - were being heard in the district judge's court today. They had made a plea last month, saying it was necessary to determine the age of the 'Shivling'.
In their plea, the women said such an investigation could involve the carbon dating process and be carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India, a government body. One of the five Hindu women petitioners, however, had taken a divergent view, objecting to the scientific investigation plea by the four other women, saying that any testing, including carbon dating, may harm the 'Shivling'.
The mosque committee had also objected to the scientific investigation plea, saying that the case by the Hindu women was about worshipping at a shrine inside the mosque and had nothing to do with its structure. The mosque committee said the object being called a 'Shivling' was actually a "fountain".
On September 12, the Varanasi district judge dismissed a challenge by the mosque committee that said the case by the Hindu women for year-long worship inside the mosque complex had no legal standing. Their challenge was rejected on all three counts that they had cited. The most important of these is the 1991 law that freezes the status of a place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947. The petitioners didn't want ownership, just the right to worship, the court ruled.
Earlier this year, a lower court in Varanasi had ordered the filming of the centuries-old mosque based on the petition of the women. The videography report, controversially leaked by the Hindu petitioners, claimed a 'Shivling' or relic of Lord Shiva had been found in a pond within the mosque complex used for Wazoo or purification rituals before Muslim prayers.
The Gyanvapi mosque, located in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, Varanasi, is one of the several mosques that Hindu hardliners believe were built on the ruins of temples. It was one of the three temple-mosque rows, besides Ayodhya and Mathura, which the BJP raised in the 1980s and 1990s, gaining national prominence.